How To Communicate Clearly
I asked him if he heard me. I could see it in his eyes. I was a glass door, and his thoughts were on the other side.
He was looking right through me. He was trapped in his head. He was thinking about what he was going to say next.
Jeff Weiner, the CEO of LinkedIn, has reported the number one skill employers are looking for in current employees, and new hires is communication skills.
I’ve witnessed thousands of written communication murder scenes like this one:
I’ve been guilty of it.
Not this bad.
This is insane.
With intentional practice over time, these are the things that have helped me communicate better.
Determine what’s in it for them and set the stage using their language.
We like hearing ourselves talk. We do it all day long with our internal dialogue.
Don’t be shy.
I know you talk to yourself.
We want to talk about things we care about, are interested in, and can benefit us.
It’s a common saying in sales that you have to tune the client into their radio station, WII FM (What’s In It For Me.)
When you speak in terms of what the other person wants, they begin to listen.
This is true for all situations.
Before you speak, determine what’s in it for them.
What're their goals, likes, passions, struggles, and dislikes?
Once you’ve established their motivations, use their language to relay your point.
Imagine you’re working on a project with a colleague. You know she has a lot going on.
She stressed and want’s to manage her time better. These are words she’s used in conversations you’ve had with her.
When talking about a project, you can start the conversation by saying,
“Hi Jill, I know managing you’re time is important and what I want for you is to be able to achieve that. Do you have five minutes to discuss the ABC project, so we’re focusing our attention on the right things?
Use their motivations and criteria when speaking to them.
Simplify what you’re saying into concise points.
Nobody want’s to read a jumbled sentence or hear someone ramble for ten minutes.
If I see a block of text in an email, I’ll delete it.
It’s too difficult to read. It’s a waste of time. It’s a mental block.
When communicating, you have to break what you’re saying down into simple, concise points.
If it’s in written form, that means…
all the essential details at the top
and break up key points using indented bullets and numbers.
When you have a complex topic to discuss, use verbal communication to talk about it.
Use written communication to recap the details and follow up.
Don’t overwhelm the other person with too much information.
One concise point at a time.
Ask questions and listen.
If you want the other person to engage with what you’re saying, ask them questions, and listen.
The other person cares about themselves.
When you engage them with a question, and if you word it correctly, they begin to answer with their thoughts, motivations, interests, and desires.
It excites them.
Actively listen by reciting what they said.
If you’re not listening to the other person then you’re wasting your time - and theirs.
Communication is a dynamic, multi dimensional conversation.
If you like to hear yourself talk then congrats, there’s a mirror in the bathroom.
Actively listening shows the other person you’re paying attention; it taps into empathy and emotional intelligence.
To understand the other person recite what they said.
You can also have them recite what you said. It’s a great test to see if they’re listening.
Of course Jill, I understand. You feel that updating the procedure will cut processing time and shipping throughput. What’s your idea on the first step?
Communication takes many forms. Master them all. They’ll be useful in every aspect of your life.